Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Simplicity Ain't So Simple, Part III: Don't Add Features You Can't Support


Making software simpler for end users is incredibly important, but sometimes simplifying your software means making things simpler for you, the developer.  And the best way you can do that is to avoid adding any feature that would bury you in support costs.

I'll give you an example: a number of FeedDemon customers have asked for an integrated blog publishing tool, which certainly sounds like a good idea. 

Source: Simplicity Ain't So Simple, Part III: Don't Add Features You Can't Support
Originally published on Tue, 12 Dec 2006 17:12:19 GMT by Nick Bradbury

As a developer myself, I have to say HUZZAH! (Why is that not in spell check?)

I do use FeedDemon. I love a good 95-99% of it. No software, even the stuff I write for myself, ever hits 100% in the 'love' category. Why? A couple of thoughts.

Ask any 10 users on what a piece of software needs to do, and you will get 10 different views. Hopefully you will find some common themes, but no matter what someone will be disappointed. There are times it seems that half your users a function work way A, half want way B. Of course A & B are polar opposites. So now we either piss off half the clients or add options. Add the option then all the users complain there is too many options. Bang head here. I could make a mint on selling those posters to programmers.

Programming for all levels of expertise is tough. Make it too simple and you loose the experts. Make to too tough and the newbies will give up. Adding both adds complexity, and makes it tougher to maintain and enhance down the road. Sometimes you can find a 'just right' middle ground, but too often that leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Users have a nasty tendancy to want to use an app they way THEY work, not they way the PROGRAMMER works. Might inconsiderate in my opinion ;).

Let us not forget the limitations of our systems and conventions. Really cool, and useful, user interfaces are sometimes poo-pooed because they are 'too different' and viewed as too difficult to use. Never mind if the learning curve is worth the effort - kill the uniqueness. Why am I reminded of the Borg? Sometimes really slick user interfaces are just not doable given other requirements. Sometimes the 'typical' machine just does not have the horsepower to do what is needed. Sometimes the operating system throws up roadblocks.

Finally the user requirements keep shifting. The slick (and useful) UI of today is tomorrow's crap that gets in the user's way. Expert users will find new (and many times surprising ) ways of using your software that you never dreamed of. Other companies start supplying data that is a natural fit to your app. Sometimes your data would be a great fit for another app. Maybe your app data would make sense on a cell phone. Or PDA. Let's not even go into the infinte possibilities of Web 2.0 mashups.

As for FeedDemon, my main pain point is the "Blog This" feature, somewhat mentioned in the above post. I have no problem launching the blogging software of my choice. In fact I prefer that over using some weird, to me, software that Nick would provide. However I always have trouble finding the option. I want it on a particular view on the right click. However it is on the 'Send To' menu on an icon. I understand WHY it works the way it does, but it does not help when I want to blog about something I just read. The problem exists between chair & keyboard, not with the software. However until that little bit of knowledge finally leaks into my brain, I will have frustrations with FeedDemon.

Truth is all software development is a serious of trade-offs. Even with infinite time it is unlikely perfect software would emerge. You need to get something into the hands of the user. Many times something that is 70-80% (or less) of what the user needs is better than nothing. Search for 'good enough software' and you will find plenty of articles that discuss this.

Akron City Council approves debt refinancing

Source: Akron City Council approves debt refinancing
Originally published on Tue, 12 Dec 2006 08:01:00 GMT

It is odd to see a city refinancing a loan (bonds) that does not relate to other fiscal problems. However it makes perfect sense. People routinely refinance a loan when the interest rates drop. Maybe because bond interest rates are a little more stable (business-types like stability) than say home mortgage rates you don't hear about it.

Good to see someone in government applying the same common sense normal people use.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Today is "Support Your Favorite Small Software Vendor Day"

Source: Today is "Support Your Favorite Small Software Vendor Day"

Jeff Atwood makes a great point. If you read the comments of the post, and I do recommend it, you can get a lot of great little pieces of software. Granted most are aimed at programmers, but still worth the look. Like Jeff, I also registered WinZip back in the day when they shipped it on a 3.5" disc even if you downloaded it at no extra charge.

I tend to use a fair amount of Open Source software. Many times I find Open Source or shareware tends to get the software that I need and they respond well to bugs or exhancements. I prefer Open Source since if something happens to the primary developer the project is still there for someone else to pick up. I have run into problems with shareware when the developer has some problems (or worse yet, dies) and there is no one to pick up the project.

I registered MPG, a small Palm app to keep track of your milage and total cost of ownership for multiple cars. I have used it for years but never paid for it, just putting up with the nag screens.

Some others I will be registering are Euchre, a Palm-based Euchre game, plus sending some money to the nice people at Mozilla for FireFox and ThunderBird, plus digging through my pile of programs at home to see if I have been negligent in the past.

Some other programs I have registered - FeedDemon (RSS reader), TextPad (fancy text editor, primarily for programmers), Geocaching Swiss Army Knife (handling GPX files from Geocaching.com), Cachemate (Palm-based handling Geocaching info, works with Geocaching Swiss Army Knife) and Runners Log. Those are the biggies.

Update: Ooops. Runners Log can be found here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mayor backs plaza bill


Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart wants City Council to help him make good on his pledge to do something about State Road Plaza. The mayor is backing legislation introduced Monday to change the definition of a blighted parcel to include commercial structures that have been 75 percent vacant for at least six months, or 50 percent vacant for at least one year.

Source: Mayor backs plaza bill
Originally published on Tue, 28 Nov 2006 08:01:00 GMT

Now let me say, the State Road Plaza is in bad shape. I'll be the first to agree. They recently evicted a tenant who was $300 short for one month's rent after talking to the news about how it was to be a tenant. Keep in mind this place is at least 50% empty as it stands right now, and I given it how empty the place has been I don't see them filling up any time soon. 

However I hate to see government pass legislation that is clearly aimed at one person or business. This legislation may make sense in the long run, however I see a big court battle ahead if this passes and they go after this plaza.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Of course tonight was election night here in America. I do enjoy being able to at least have a little say in who will represent me, although I do hate the process. Before I get to far, let me say that any process is not perfect, and all have their problems. Here is my experiences.


First off there were were 4 precints at my polling place. The parking lot was not large enough to accomodate the number of people. The basement was not large enough to accomodate all the people and the new equipment. Fortunately I got right through, however all the other places were backed up.


First off I have never been a fan of how Ohio takes away my secret ballot. They put the number of the ballot next to where I sign. That ties the ballot to my name, which means you can figure out how I voted, which takes away my secret ballot.


Next I was not asked for an ID. This is the law in Ohio, and the table right next to mine they were checking IDs. Not that I think this is a great way to stop voter fraud, but it is the law. I expect it to be applied equally.


Here in Summit County, we use a scanner that scans a paper ballot right there. In fact I feed it in (with the poll worker watching, seeing how I voted). No apparent problems for that, although I am not sure if everything was read correctly. BTW I was #473 for that machine.


I love our system, although the implimentation can use some work. In a book by Marian Williamson, and I wish I could remember the name, she had suggested making the election "day" several days, moving it to a weekend, or making the day a national holiday to get more people to turn out. A step in the right direction. Here are some of mine:


I like how Ohio now has a "no excuse" reason to get an absentee ballot. That would relieve some of the pressure on overworked and over-extended polling workers/location.


As a programmer, I know that any system that can be touched by humans can also be manipulated by them. Keep in mind you only need a large magnet to wipe a memory card to screw up an election. Or even just a hammer. Getting the internet involved only makes the problems worse. Throwing technology at the problem is not necessarily the answer. There are various levels of "acceptable risk" that software goes through. The most mission critical software & hardware require extensive testing, years of work, and cost a ton of money. You can bet no voting system goes through that kind of rigor. It should, but no one will pay for the resulting system. The other problem is the people who usually work the polls are not exactly tech savy.


I like the paper ballots we used here, although I feel I might as well be yelling my votes from a mountain top with a megaphone. Filling out a huge piece of paper, handing my ballot around, putting the ballot number next to my signature. Ummmm.....what about a secret ballot?


I also feel that no one should be allowed to be handing out any policitical material with 1 mile of a polling place. I was in my way in and the Democrats wanted to give me a cheat sheet on how to vote. Thanks, but I don't always vote Democrat.


One other pet peeve - could we please allow an independant to vote issues only at a primary? Neither party truly represents my views, and in either case I believe in keeping a balance so I usually vote for 1 of each. The only reason I am a Democrat is so I can vote on issues during primary time.


Also, I think that leaving political messages on my answering machine should be punishable by taking a cattle prod to candidate's (or who ever's idea this was) dangly bits. A 30-60 second message is not going to get me to change my view on anything. Let me correct that - you may have just pushed me to vote against you.


Lastly, I would like all election night coverage to stop. Truth be told, no one can make any prediction based on 5% returns, even 50% returns. I don't want to hear about problems at the polls, which would cause people to not turn out. The only thing that should be reported election night is if some polls are staying open late. Outside of that, any coverage is a waste of time and effort. I can read about it the next day when everything is final.


No system is perfect. There is no perfect, it is a process that can always be improved. I think though there are a lot of things that can be done to help make it easier that do not require much thought or effort.

Even more fun with voting machines

Mac noted a problem with her voting machines - the final button to push is rather low, resulting in people not getting their vote counted. I also noted the "To Vote Straight Ticket Press Here" button, which I feel is a very bad idea.

More on my views of elections later, after I vote today.

Now coming to a library near you - Netflix

Hacking Netflix had an interesting post last week about how Palo Alto Library was considering outsourcing DVD rentals to Netflix. They ask "...should libraries be renting movies in the first place?"

The resulting comments were interesting (I recommend reading them). Many things were brought up - The need to stock hard to find movies is not needed because Netflix has everything. Netflix can keep good working copies of movies. One of the biggest points being made that with so much available to stream online, and the quality of various media, why bother with movies, CDs, and to a point even books & magazines?

There was one point not made though. Not everyone has a computer and/or internet at home. You maybe have a DVD player, say from a friend, but no money to join Netflix or even rent from a local brick & morter place.

Many years ago the first VHS machine our family got was from a friend who got a new machine with a remote (yes, that long ago) and they were going to throw out their old machine. Truth was we did not have the money at the time to rent videos so we went to the library and borrowed theirs.

Would I support my library going to Netflix for DVD rentals? Sure. Would I dump my current Netflix membership? Probably not. My guess is that any library would have a 1 or 2 out at a time plan. At this time I am not looking to downgrade my plan. Now if I could get them to pay for my 3 at a time plan...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Two men enter, one man leaves

I had flashes of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome when I saw this article. I liked this "...with a typical Vermont dairy cow producing around 13 gallons of manure daily...". Now I am not sure how much a gallon of cow manure weighs, but a gallon of water ways about 8 pounds, so we could be talking 100+ pounds of manure per day per cow. And that is assuming they do not get any Taco Bell. For those a little more visual, check out the picture here. Scroll down until you see the picture with the text "horse poo-poo" on it. For reference, the guy with his foot on the pile is over 6 foot tall (I think I heard 6' 4", but don't quote me on that).

This is a great way to deal with two problems. I know 10 or so years ago Germany and other European countries were trying to get synergy between industries in using the waste from one industry as the raw material for another. It not only cuts down on stuff going to landfills and to reduce the need for raw materials.

If Green Mountain College wants to go another step further, they should be putting at least 1 solar panel on every roof top. Yes, they may not be able to provide all their power needs through solar power, but every little bit will help.

We will fry anything

When I first saw this I thought "oh my god now what". Fried coke?!? You have got to be kidding.

Then I remembered the tempura sampler at my favorite Japanese place. It includes things like green beans, yams and my personal favorite - banana bites. Of course that at least has SOME healthy bits in it.

Then again, people regularly fry things like Snickers bars. I guess if you have a deep fryer sitting around you just start throwing stuff in.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

eMail Trouble

I was reading a post from Allison Randal over on O'Reilly Radar about the fun and joy she has with email. I can sympathize. I have a couple of different email accounts, meaning several inboxes, things spread across those inboxes, more mail than I can keep up with some days, etc.

Interestingly I was also playing some catchup on some other feeds and was reading Tim O"Reilly on the abandoning the power user in Windows Vista.

Now I do not believe the typical user has several email accounts. Most will have 1 for home, one for work (maybe), and possibly a third web-based account.

The problem is email is just getting worse, and it is not just a power user issue. Spam issues aside, more and more of our lives funnel through email. If you read Allison's article, you will see many of the things that goes through her inbox. Not to mention "friend spam" as Merlin Mann put it in the article on the LazyWeb.

Even the "new fangled" RSS does not do enough. Nick Bradbury talks about how much more RSS could be doing for us. One tip for the FedEx & UPS type of businesses - when we get the email notifying us of the tracking number, could we get a link so we can subscribe to the tracking RSS feed? It would make my life simplier. Also it would be nice if we could find a way to let our aggregators know when a feed is completely done.

Tag clouds and beefed up search only go so far though. We need some more horse power in our mail programs. Most seem to allow you to move/delete emails, but not much more.

Contrast that with the Geocaching Swiss Army Knife. One of the primary goals of GSAK is to read in files you get from Geocaching.com and convert it so it can be loaded into your GPS unit, along with various other mapping and other geocaching software. However the scripting language allows for almost all (if not all) functions to be scripted. I have just really began to work with it, but already I have a small script that takes my 3 weekly downloads from GC.com, loads them into a temporary data base, exports them into separate files to load into my Palm, load all 3 into one big database, then export the big database to my GPS. Even further, I can run programs outside of GSAK. One thing I am looking to add is running a small program that picks up all the finds from my Palm and then updates that info back into my main database and initiates another macro (already provided) to help automate the logging of those finds back at GC.com. I can even add a message box to remind me to synch my Palm before doing that process.

Why can't my email be like that? Geocaching, whereas fun, does not have near the volume of activity as my email. Why can't I automatically download the attachments from the emails coming from GC.com to a specific directory? Sure, I can set GSAK to handle it, but it is recommended I setup a new email (!!) specifically for that. Why? I have to do this every week. Why can't Merlin's LazyWeb idea above be easily implimented in all email programs? Why can't we have some kind of microformat that would allow us to easily pick up the amounts from an emailed receipt to import into our financal software? We pick the account, but the underlying info is all there. Why can't right click on an email and say 'mark everything in green from this sender' to draw attention to electronic bill presentment? Why can't we then slowly turn those to red as the bill date approaches? Microformats could somehow handle that. Even the current iCal could. Or maybe play a sound when a bill comes in? Or, as Allison suggested, have a special window at the side of important things, turning them into ToDos?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Interesting Take on American Politics

Tom Hollander has an interesting view of how the whole election process works here in the States. Truth is, I have to agree - the damn signs make little sense. Here in Ohio they are constantly getting bigger. Down the street from me is one that is roughly 4x6 foot! Fortunately it is not where it would obstruct traffic.

Since I live on a corner of a busy street, not far from a school, I get calls all the time asking to place a sign in my yard. This is one of the reasons I no longer answer my phone unless I know who it is.

I have yet to feel strongly about any candidate since I was able to vote. Mostly I feel I am picking between the lesser of two evils. However I do at least throw my vote in, even if I feel as though I am flushing it down the toilet.

At least then I feel semi-justified in complaining when things are not going the way I want them. I want to slap the people who complain about the state of country (or state, county, city, etc.) yet never get off their fat asses to go and vote. You may not find someone you like, but usually you can find someone you DON'T like. Don't complain if you are not exercising your rights.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Interesting video from YouTube

Saw this on YouTube and thought it was interesting.

I have been very busy, but I hope to post an extended entry tonight.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Another White Buffalo

Another White Buffalo

Interesting that in the last 12 years or so we have had 3 one in million occurances. Here is more on the lore of White Buffalo.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Post-It Note Heaven

Will's Room

I tend to use post-it notes at work like many people use small pads of paper, but this takes the cake.

A long time ago I read a book aimed at organizational techniques for creative people. I cannot come up with the title (there are several at Amazon), but one of the techniques they recommended was the use of post-it notes for your to-do list. One item per post it note.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A New Blog Editor

I know it has been awhile, but work has been kicking my butt. I just loaded up Windows Live Writer to play around with. This is a test post from there. I am curious to see how it works with Blogger.

Right now I am computer-less at home - my laptop is on loan to my brother.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

This is just stupid

Stow has put price on police response

Stow's defense: Accidents are not part of what a cop does. Funny, Ohio law requires a police report to be filed for any accident where over $450 of damage is done. This is pointed out in the article. So, under Ohio law, any accident with over $450 of damage WOULD be part of a cops duties. This is going to fall pretty quick.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The alphabet groups becoming irrelevant?

Thanks to Geek New Central for bringing this article to my attention.

With groups like BPI, RIAA and MPAA all running around screaming how the sky is falling. I think the need for these groups is falling. What artist of all types are finding out, you do not need the industry anymore. You can connect directly with your audience thanks to the internet.

Consider the Podsafe Music Network. Just this week Alice Cooper, yes THE Alice Cooper, added 3 songs to their network. James Brown has also put a song on this network. This allows podcasters to play these songs without worries the RIAA will come to sue their house away. Why do this? Marketing! These two are willing to forgo the $10 or $20 they may get in royalties with the hope of selling more albums or songs.

Face it - some people will always refuse to pay for music (or movies). Some simply do not recognize you are not paying for the song, but the process that went into creating that song. Some feel all information, including music, should be free. In the internet age. the music industry will need to evolve or die out like the dodo.

Friday, August 11, 2006

An even better idea

Ohio pokes while others speed up

Bob does have a point, however more important would be getting trucks to go the same speed as the rest of traffic. Forcing the big rigs to 55 while the rest of traffic is trying to move at 65 cases many of the same problems mentioned.

Many years ago my friends and I agreed that 55 was a stupid number. If they had lowered it to 60 more people would have been accepting of it. At 60 it becomes easy to figure out how long a trip will take - a mile a minute. I do not mind 60 that much, what I do mind is people whipping in and out of traffic.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Funny - Mel Gibson's Netflix Queue

DVD Dossier got a hold of Mel Gibson's Netflix queue. Well worth the read.

I do feel semi-sorry for Mel, although I find that when drunk people actually say how the really feel. This is probably not the end of his career, but he will definately lost some of the "Mel Gibson is in it I will watch it" audience.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

U.S. prepares for showdown in Cuba - Yahoo! News

U.S. prepares for showdown in Cuba - Yahoo! News

Ok, we have not learned yet. How many times have we sponsored someone to overflow a government only to have it bite us in the ass?

Iran warns oil could reach $200 on sanctions - Yahoo! News

Iran warns oil could reach $200 on sanctions - Yahoo! News

If I were in charge, my response to this threat from Iran would be to start a program much like was done with NASA to get us off oil, and push public transportation.

Wish I could read the whole article

Domain Of The Weird

GOP Senator’s staff member calls for the removal of Connecticut’s statehood because a newspaper editorial opposed ANWR drilling.

Does anyone engage their brain before speaking these days? The whole story (follow the links) appears to be behind a pay site ($265/year BTW), so I cannot see the entire context. Assuming the quote is accurate, yikes. Why am I reminded of the Borg?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bush signs Voting Rights act extension - Yahoo! News

Bush signs Voting Rights act extension - Yahoo! News

As a play to minorities, this is a slap in the face. If the Republicans REALLY cared, why not make the provisions of the Votings Rights Act permanent? So for another 25 years minorities will be able to continue to vote. What happens 25 years from now? Do we get to go back to what it was like before this law was enacted?

If you want minority support, show them they matter. Make this permanent.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Along for the Journey

Wil Wheaton pointed to a blog entry by Scalzi about Journey. A great walk down memory lane.

As someone who graduated high school in the 80s, Journey was pretty much at the top of my favorite groups. For most of my friends, it was a toss up between Journey and local favorite Michael Stanley Band for the #1 spot. (MSB lost appeal when I got into college because of a broken record in the student center's jukebox, but that is another story.)

For me the Raised On Radio album was when I started to loose interest. I, like many, were a little pissed with the change from the one-word album titles for new albums. Steve Perry was starting his solo work, which always felt like Journey-light to me. The firing of 2 band members, for no apparent reason, showed egos were becoming an issue. You could see the writing on the wall for the breakup.

Although I picked up Trial by Fire, it just did not feel the same. I even remember in interviews when the tour was cancelled one of the band members had said that the same issues from the original breakup were still there.

I did get a DVD of a Japanese concert from there Arrival tour. It had the feel of the old Journey. I have yet to get their latest album. Frankly Arrival was a surprise to me. One of the problems of becoming old - you just can't keep up with everything.

Even with my changing tastes in music, Journey is still a constant in my play list. And as Scalzi pointed out, Journey is up there with Barry White for make out music.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Gays accused of discrimination in US resort village

I find this somewhat amusing. I don't like discrimination of any type, and especially the racial discrimination mentioned in the article. BUT I do like it when people get a taste of their own medicine. Maybe some people will get an understanding of what it is like to be at the wrong end of discrimination.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

'Sixth Sense' star in hospital after crash - Yahoo! News

'Sixth Sense' star in hospital after crash - Yahoo! News

I found it interesting that he was driving a 1995 Saturn. Haley Joel Osment has been a lot of movies and TV shows before he turned 18. I am not sure if he is being frugal or just has no money, but still interesting.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Doing away with pennies

Penny saved is a penny spurned

Personally I am against this, but if we are getting rid of pennies, we might as well get rid of nickels. They also cost more than $.05 to make. If this is a purely economical reason, then why not change the materials they are made of. They have done it before - during WWII they made the pennies out of steel for a couple of years. No reason they could not make them out of steel, aluminum or any other material.

They have been debating for years on getting rid of pennies for years - worthless coins like the half penny. Maybe so, but the question becomes where does it end? Eventually we eliminate all coins. They would fall prey to the "worthless coin" mentality. So with no coins if your bill came to $5.10 (or even $5.01) you would have to pay $6 for that purchase - you know no business would write off that dime and they cannot give you change for $6.

Dollar bills have likewise been talked about as "worthless".

Monday, July 17, 2006

Netflix Anxiety

Newsweek on Severe Netflix Anxiety

Brad Stone in Newsweek writes about Netflix-related maladies such as Netflix guilt and Severe Netflix Anxiety (SNA), Netflix Guilt.

My worst movie, so far, is Fahrenheit 9/11 which I had for a month or so before watching. This does not count my Spiritual Cinema Circle discs I mention below.

There are sooo many options out there now for entertainment that people are paying for: Cable, Netflix/Blockbuster, satelite radio, music services, newspapers and the Internet (let's not get into the various free sources here). It is a miracle we are able to pay attention to anything. If I have been seeing a bunch of heavy stuff in the news, Fahrenehit 9/11 or Maria Full Of Grace are not going to be first on my list to watch. Weekend at Bernie's is more likely.

I was 6 months behind in my Spiritual Cinema Circle. The movies are great, but I have two issues with watching the discs immediately. First is time. I like to watch the discs in one sitting, but I need to plan 2.5-3 hours, more than the typical movie. Second is the subject matter. There is a mix of drama & comedies, but they all make you think. So if there is a chance I may fall asleep or will divide my attention I will not pop in one of these discs.
Banned Md. skateboarders find a refuge

I am not surprised by the banning of public skateboarders, although for me skateboards were a mode of transportation. We were not allowed to ride bikes to school (even though there was a bike rake), so skateboards were a quick way to get to school (home was another matter). We could throw them in a bag and then in our lockers.

Times have changed of course. Now people sue anyone for any little thing, even when it was their own stupidity. That is why you see all those "NO biking, skatboarding, blades, drulling, etc." signs everywhere. I wonder if I was to ride up to one of the malls on my bike if I would be turned away even though I am just using my bike as transportation and not doing stupid human tricks.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Congress debates ban on Internet gambling - Yahoo! News

Congress debates ban on Internet gambling - Yahoo! News:

Internet gambling is addictive, dangerous and should be outlawed,...

Mmmmm....cigarettes are also addictive & dangerous yet you do not outlaw them. Same goes for alcohol. For that matter there are many addicted to sex, yet it is still legal. (At least as long as you are a man & a woman, with the lights out and ONLY for procreation. Did I get enough sarcasm in that?)

Is the drunk that looses his job any different from a gambler who looses his money? ANYTHING can be addictive, dangerous, and a "serious threat to families and our society" (from Rep. Tom Osborne). Interestingly you can still bet on horses online. Can you say hypocrisy? I knew that you could.

This reeks of two things. First an election year tidbit to the conservatives who think everyone is stupid and needs to be treated like a 10 year old. Second, and more likely, this is a way to drive more money into real-world casinos that are sprouting up more and more across the nation. Real-world gambling = more money for government.

I do not gamble, online or otherwise. I do not see the fun in it. At least with poker there is some skill involved and there is some control in your hands. If you are going to stop one type of gambling online, then ALL types must be stopped.

An interesting side note - there is a note that most sports approve this ban because they feel that "web wagering could hurt the integrity of their sports." There have been plenty of documented cases of thrown games before online betting, and there will be plenty after. As long as there is ANY betting there will be no integrity.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I'm a hard-core idler

Drivers tapped to fight ozone

Now I am all for cutting the ozone levels, and I don't mind (too much) paying an extra $.04/gallon for gas. However this struck me as odd:

A statewide anti-idling law for cars, trucks, buses and off-road vehicles. Municipalities in Northeast Ohio should adopt similar bans.


Strict enforcement of speed limits.

Ok, the point about trucks idling just to provide air conditioning to the driver sleeping the back, or worse yet just waiting to be loaded at the dock, however how is this going to be enforced? Will our already overworked cops be out with stop watches at the drive-up ATMs instead of out trying to catch speeders? Instead of directing traffic at the accident will they be handing out idling tickets?

And what about the strict enforement of speed limits? Right now most cops will let a lot go because if they did not traffic would come to a stand still. Which of course brings us back to the no idling rule.

Since we are talking some weird laws, why not just ban all gas-powered lawn maintenance equipment? Hell why not just eliminate gas-powered cars completely? Both are about as enforcable as the anti-idling law.

I also like the suggestion to increase the use of public transportation, including free on high ozone days, only works if you have a system that is actually useful in place. As for workplace changes, most employers are not willing to make ANY changes in how they do business.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Nanny sues hidden-camera manufacturer - Yahoo! News

Nanny sues hidden-camera manufacturer - Yahoo! News

Mmmmmm....no. Don't get me wrong, I think the lady has been seriously wronged, but I don't think the manufacturer should be held accountable. If they bill their recording as time-lapsed, I would think at least law enforcement would understand that and NOT arrest her in the first place.

cadavers to the left, explosives to the right

There is some kind of training program for cops, firemen, etc. is going on around work. Therefore there are a bunch of signs up to direct people to the right areas. It is weird to drive down the road and see 'cadavers' with an arrow pointing you, presumably, to where the cadaver are. Explosives, searches, aggression are just a few I remember.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Photo IDs for panhandlers

Strategy targets begging in Akron

This is just a law to allow the cops to arrest people for panhandling. Period. Do people REALLY think that just passing a law requiring a special photo ID and saying you cannot panhandle in these locations will magically make people stop doing it? I realize politicians are not necessarily the sharpest crayons in the box, but come on people.

I am not arguing that there is an issue with panhandling in Akron. I know there is. It does not keep me from going downtown. What keeps me from going downtown is a lack of things that I am interested in. Let me say that again - What keeps me from going downtown is a lack of things that I am interested in.

I have rarely felt unsafe in Akron. I have been told though my perception maybe skewed given I am a 6 foot tall male.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Friday, June 02, 2006

Virginity pledgers often dishonest about past - Yahoo! News

Virginity pledgers often dishonest about past - Yahoo! News

Wow, what a shock. Teenagers lie about having sex. Surveys that show abstinence-only sex education programs work maybe unreliable because teens lie. Oh my am I shocked.

As long as there have been humans, they have been lying about having sex. As soon as you make something "bad", teens are going to try it. Maybe people need to live in the real world and realize teens will have sex. They will lie about having sex. We should equip these teens to be able to at least protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy.

We will not even bring up the whole sexually transmitted disease thing.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

'Cause this is my town

but love or hate it -- it don't matter
'cause this is my town

Michael Stanley Band's My Town

When Michael Stanley wrote that song, he of course was referring to Cleveland. Rumor has it that they recorded 200 or so different versions of the song, yelling various city names in place of the original Cleveland, including a version with Akron.

Today we went and put flowers on my grandfathers' graves, plus our mother and a couple of other non-veteran family members as is our tradition over the Memorial Day weekend. Maybe I was feeling a little nostalgic, maybe I just did not want to be around people (I had an invite to a neighbor's barbeque), but I spent a couple of hours driving around Akron today. This is not something I have done in many years, and boy have I missed a lot. I had heard about many of the projects around town - the new library (actually been in it), the new art museum (still in progress), and some other changes at the University of Akron, but to see some of the changes up close was something entirely different.

I drove by the big 4 rubber companies old plant ones: General (now an empty lot where they do cement recycling), Goodrich (Gojo and various other businesses), Firestone (no idea what they use it for now) and Goodyear (now their World Headquarters). So much has changed since the days when you got a good whiff of sulpher and knew another tire rolled off the lines.

As I drove around remembering the closed store that used to be a Lawsons, the chinese restaurant that used to be a Red Barn (where you could get burgers OR fried chicken) or the intersection that used to have 4 gas stations (now has 1, 2 empty lots and a car dealership) I got to wondering if I was not one of the people holding Akron back. Do I cling to tightly to the glory days? Maybe, like the phoenix of myth, we need to plow it all under to get something new to rise from the ashes, so to speak.

As much as I love Akron, it is never going to be a cool city. Sure, you might be able to pull the black-rimmed glasses off and dress her up in "cool" clothes, but at her core Akron is still in the AV club. If you get to know her, ignore the pocket protector and black socks, you find out she is a pretty interesting city. Maybe even cool it her own way. The rush to make Akron attractive to outsiders, I hope we do not loose what makes Akron, well, Akron.

There is one last bit that Michael Stanley left us with, which is a great reminder to all of us:

This town taught me...its never to late.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hayden Insists NSA Surveillance Is Legal - Yahoo! News

Hayden Insists NSA Surveillance Is Legal - Yahoo! News

One thing I seem to recall from 9/11 is that the President and various other people wanted to get the various alphabet agencies to work closer together. Share the info. So NSA may say "we are only looking for terrorists" however the FBI or DEA may have access to the same data and use it for their own data mining efforts.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On Watching Perfection

I was running a bit behind in my newspaper reading, but I came across an article in Monday's paper that brought back some wonderful memories.

On May 15, 1981 Len Barker pitched a perfect game. For those who do not follow baseball, that means Len Barker faced the minimum number of batters a pitcher can face in 9 innings - 27. 27 up, 27 down. No walks, no hits, no runs, no errors. No one reached base at all. This has only been done 15 times in the big leagues.

Slightly less thatn 7300 people were in the old Municipal Stadium (that held about 60,000 people for baseball) that night, however the game was on TV.

It was a Friday night. I remember because I used to wash dishes at a Friday night fish fry. As was usual, we would pop out from the kitchen to catch the score on the TV at the bar whenever we got a chance. About the fifth inning someone popped into the kitchen to let us know Lenny had a no-hitter going. We then popped out more frequently to see what was going on. We could pretty much see the TV from the door to the kitchen, so it was not hard. A couple of innings later someone popped in to let us know that Lenny had the perfect game going. All pretenses of work went out the door then as we stood around the bar, with just about everyone else, watching. Fingers crossed. Cheering each out. Completely freaking out when, as I recall, Rick Manning (now an annoucer for the Tribe on cable) caught the last fly out to center field.

For us Indian fans it was a touch with greatness. It had been 13 years since a perfect game had been done (1968 by Catfish Hunter), and the Indians were in, as one of the players put it, perpetual rebuild mode. For those who have seen the movie Major League, that is not too far off what those days were like. To see someone at the top of his game (it only took 104 pitches) was great. We never held much hope of a post-season - the American League East was the toughest division in those days. Many season the Indians' record would have kept them at least in the hunt for some post-season action, but the AL East they ended up in 5th or 6th.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Gasoline Prices on Yahoo! News Photos

Gasoline Prices on Yahoo! News Photos

Gas - $3.91/gallon. For the cheap stuff. Maybe the high end, but still it will probably be there for all of us later this year. What will it actually take for the government to start an initiative like the Moon landing to get us off of oil?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Why are Brits healthier? - Yahoo! News

Why are Brits healthier? - Yahoo! News:

An interesting study. No good, easy answers (and I would not expect any), but I thought this is probably the biggest answer (emphasis mine):

Is it health care? This is a popular theory because all British citizens have access to a government-run health care system that encourages preventive care. Despite that striking difference, however, researchers hesitate to cite it as the explanation. After all, Americans spend nearly twice as much as the British do on health care, and many of the wealthiest Americans in the study, who presumably have insurance, are sicker than are the poorest Brits.

One thing about the American health care system (and I use the term system lightly here) there is not a lot of emphasis on preventative care. Few, if any, insurance companies work out deals for discounted gym memberships, weight loss programs, stop smoking programs, etc. I think insurance companies are starting to wake up to it, but we still have a LONG way to go. I am not even asking for the insurance company to make the programs available for free, just work out some kind of discount.

The stress pointed to in the article is very real. Brits I believe get 3, maybe 4, weeks of government mandated vacation a year. In the USA we get 0, although most companies give 2 weeks after 1 or 2 years of service. Even then most people are encouraged (and in some cases ordered) to not take their allotted vacation time. Even for those who do take their vacation, the vacation is as stressful as their job. A different kind of stress is still stress.

As I understand vacation in Europe, people will just take a week (or more) and get a house in the country and just kind of do nothing. No forced marches through Disney World, no "are we there yet" road trips. Just some time to relax and unplug from the world.

N.Y. Lawmaker Sues Google Over Child Porn - Yahoo! News

N.Y. Lawmaker Sues Google Over Child Porn - Yahoo! News:

"The lawsuit does not seek specific monetary damages, but wants Google to prohibit 'advertising relating to Web sites that display, market or otherwise provide illegal access to pornography.'"

Hmmm... no mention of CHILD pornography in that. That statement reeks of election year grandstanding.

As mentioned anywhere that does have child (or I can imagine a few other categories) porn they do not allow advertising, block it from the search engine, and notify the authorities.

If you were really worried about child porn you would also go after Microsoft (MSN search) and Yahoo. Both have ads in their search engine, or are adding them soon. Besides there a tons of sites & even books on how to boost your search ranking that bypass all advertising.

As an aside, I do not recall seeing any porn ads in my search results from Google. Adsense is pretty good at matching advertisors to your search terms.

If someone really wants to stop the spread of porn, maybe you should go after the spammers who send me a ton of 'naked h0rny t33n' emails. Who needs to search when it comes to my inbox daily?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

iTunes Songs to Stay 99 Cents Per Download - Yahoo! News

iTunes Songs to Stay 99 Cents Per Download - Yahoo! News:

"Apple's dominance of the download market means the Cupertino-based company does have the upper hand for now, but analysts predict its market share will pare down as rival services, including online music subscription services, gain traction."

That is an interesting statement. Music subscriptions are EXACTLY what the music industry wants - essentially always paying for the music. I do think they are wrong about Apple's dominance though. Even with cheap music subscriptions (as low as $60/year) people are still going to want to buy and own some music. Unless someone can come up with something cheaper (unlikely) or at a similar price but without the iTunes DRM it will remain the place to go for legal music purchases.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sci Fi feels Pulse of broadband - Yahoo! News

Sci Fi feels Pulse of broadband - Yahoo! News

It will be interesting to see what the use on PUlse for "recycled original series". I would love to see "Tremors, The Series" rear its Graboid head again, even just in reruns.

Beacon Journal | 04/27/2006 | Our blimp deserves spot on car plates

Beacon Journal | 04/27/2006 | Our blimp deserves spot on car plates

For many years I had the Scenic Rivers plates, although the plates for my new car are standard issue Ohio plates. I would seriously consider a blimp plate. Unique and the money goes to the local Red Cross.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Working from home & telemarketers

I am working from home today to get some uninterrupted thinking time. As always it has paid off.

I got a call today that I let my answering machine (yes, I'm a bit old school) get. This is not unusual - because of telemarketers I never answer my home phone until I hear who it is. I am too cheap frugal to get caller ID. Anyone who knows me knows I do not answer my phone until after the answering machine picks up.

This was from John Morgan, to have Mr. or Mrs. Hill return his call at a toll-free number about my mortgage. Well John, if for some reason you read this - I am not returning your call you stinking telemarketer.

How do I know? A few things:

1) I am not married. Never have been. Therefore there is no Mrs. Hill on any mortgage papers.
2) I have no mortgage on my current house.
3) The mortgage I do have on my other house has never called me in almost 7 years. Ever. Not even while I was getting the mortgage. They like to work through mail.
4) Any communication I have had on the phone with the bank that is loosely affiliated to the mortgage company as always clearly identified the company they are with. I know that sounds weird, but the mortgage company & bank are separate entities but are owned by the same parent. They actually share the same building locally.
5) The mortgage that my mom had, on both houses, were in her name. She never remarried and had been divorced for 20+ years before she died. Therefore Mr. Hill on her mortgages.

Monday, April 24, 2006

AFI Top 100 Movies of All Time

AFI's Top 100 American Movies of All Time, or at least through 1998. Since one of my 101 things to do in 1001 days is to get through this list, I thought I would post where I stand on this right now. Some of these I may have seen given the weird tastes my mom had in movies, but I don't recall them.

1. CITIZEN KANE (1941)
2. CASABLANCA (1942)
6. THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
7. THE GRADUATE (1967)
10. SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)
14. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)
15. STAR WARS (1977)
16. ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)
18. PSYCHO (1960)
19. CHINATOWN (1974)
22. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
24. RAGING BULL (1980)
26. DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)
31. ANNIE HALL (1977)
33. HIGH NOON (1952)
41. WEST SIDE STORY (1961)
42. REAR WINDOW (1954)
43. KING KONG (1933)
47. TAXI DRIVER (1976)
48. JAWS (1975)
53. AMADEUS (1984)
56. M*A*S*H (1970)
57. THE THIRD MAN (1949)
58. FANTASIA (1940)
61. VERTIGO (1958)
62. TOOTSIE (1982)
63. STAGECOACH (1939)
66. NETWORK (1976)
69. SHANE (1953)
71. FORREST GUMP (1994)
72. BEN-HUR (1959)
74. THE GOLD RUSH (1925)
76. CITY LIGHTS (1931)
78. ROCKY (1976)
79. THE DEER HUNTER (1978)
80. THE WILD BUNCH (1969)
81. MODERN TIMES (1936)
82. GIANT (1956)
83. PLATOON (1986)
84. FARGO (1996)
85. DUCK SOUP (1933)
88. EASY RIDER (1969)
89. PATTON (1970)
90. THE JAZZ SINGER (1927)
91. MY FAIR LADY (1964)
92. A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951)
93. THE APARTMENT (1960)
94. GOODFELLAS (1990)
95. PULP FICTION (1994)
96. THE SEARCHERS (1956)
98. UNFORGIVEN (1992)

Beacon Journal | 04/24/2006 | Former local TV star beloved by children

Beacon Journal | 04/24/2006 | Former local TV star beloved by children

What I remember of Barnaby is he was a lot like Mr. Rogers but with fewer props and a much smaller audience, but just as entertaining.

Barnaby was as much a fixture of my youth as Super Host, Big Chuck & Hoolihan (later to become Big Chuck & Little John), Mr. Jingaling and The Ghoul.

Now a days you would not find such shows on TV, which is a shame. These hosts may not be great actors, but they knew there audiences and could tap into local in-jokes in a way that gets lost when people only look at the numbers. I do not think such shows would work well as a podcast either. Copyright issues aside, tapping into local jokes does not play well with an international audence.

Friday, April 21, 2006

TechCrunch » Microsoft Live Drive may launch before GDrive

TechCrunch » Microsoft Live Drive may launch before GDrive:

The idea of on-line storage is nothing new. Four or five years ago there was a service that would sync files to a server between multiple machines. Amazon has had something similar for awhile, although it is a pay service.

One bit I found particularly odd:

"With Live Drive, all your information - movies, music, tax information, a high-definition videoconference you had with your grandmother, whatever - could be accessible from anywhere, on any device." [Emphasis mine]

I found this a bit chilling that anyone would even consider putting their tax info in a place they did not have a lot of control over. Microsoft still has a way to go to earn at least my trust, and frankly I would not even put that kind of info on GDrive. At least if it is on my machine I can disconnect my machine from the internet, or copy the file to a CD, etc. to keep that kind of information as private as possible.

Also, given some recent things from the RIAA or MPAA, what kind of responsibility would you have if someone cracked into your Live Drive and illegally downloaded the music and videos you had there? You legally owned them, however I am sure the alphabet groups could make something of a case that you were distributing them.

Don't get me wrong - it is a good idea. However at least right now internet storage has a ways to go to prove itself.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Beacon Journal | 04/20/2006 | Hikers' participation not at its peak in '05

Beacon Journal | 04/20/2006 | Hikers' participation not at its peak in '05

Although disappointing, it is not surprising given the cost of gas. I only hit the minimum number of trails last year - many of which are sort-of on the way home.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

General things in Egypt so far... (Apr. 18, 2006)

General things in Egypt so far... (Apr. 18, 2006)

Although I am enjoying catching the photos of his trip, this post struck a chord with me. Going back to the old BBS days when we would hook up, snag as much as possible, send as much as possible, and get off the phone before my mom would kick my butt. These days of 24/7 Internet access, many times with always available wireless, it is fun to see some old school work.

Now we just need off-like Flickr setup...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Researchers Study Stradivarius Violins - Yahoo! News

Researchers Study Stradivarius Violins - Yahoo! News

Yet another attempt to figure out the Stradivari's secrets. I have heard records of some of the Stradivarius violins, however my untrained ear has never really noticed a difference.

Part of me hopes they do not succeed.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Disney to Make 4 ABC Shows Free Online - Yahoo! News

Disney to Make 4 ABC Shows Free Online - Yahoo! News

An interesting twist. Show some patience, and be willing to put up with some ads, and you can get some popular shows for free.

The question will be have they listened to the conversation around advertising. People are willing to watch advertising if it is a) interesting and b) not jammed down their throat several times an hour. Consider the Super Bowl - many people watch the Super Bowl just to see the ads. Can they provide provocative, varied ads to keep people interested?

It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Friday, April 07, 2006

101 things in 1001 days

I am finally jumping on the bandwagon. Check out Triplux for more information, and a copy of the script for the countdown. Unfortunately Blogger does not want to allow the script to run. My 1001 days in 2 Jan 2009.

1. Find 300 total caches
2. Walk 5 days A week for 3 straight months
3. Read 100 books
4. Completely clean out office
5. Get rid of entertainment center
6. Paint living room
7. Transfer all cds to MP3
8. Finish Route 66 walking program
9. Finish Civil War walking program
10. Finish Lewis & Clarke walking program
11. Finish College Walking program
12. Get a new car
13. Paint outside of House
14. Paint kitchen
15. Paint bedroom
16. Paint office
17. Paint Bathroom
18. Setup tai chi area
19. Complete a self study Javascript book
20. Finish Watch AFI's top 100 American Films of All Time
21. Replace basement windows
22. Lose 50 pounds
23. Replace tool bench
24. Landscape side of house
25. Finish Great Lakes Walking program
26. Finish Lighthouse Walking program
27. Finish Revolutionary War walking program
28. Finish Pony express Walking program
29. Walk a total of 2300 miles
30. Complete NaNoWriMo
31. Complete the Gold Award in the President's Challenge
32. Replace hose faucet
33. Take 500 pictures
34. Learn to juggle 3 balls
35. Release 200 Bookcrossing books
36. Get my Amazon wish list to transfer to my Palm through synch
37. Get my Netflix queue to transfer to my Palm through synch
38. Setup my old machine as a server
39. Get a new hair style
40. Get back in school for my accounting degree
41. Get a Microsoft certification
42. Complete at least half of the hours for my associate in Metaphysical studies at http://www.ccms.edu.
43. Complete Blogathon
44. Visit Lily Dale, NY
45. Setup my scanner (or get a new one if needed)
46. Get a t-shirt from Rubber City Clothing http://www.rubbercityclothing.com/
47. Attend First Night
48. Get a computer desk
49. Take 1 yoga class a week for at least 3 months
50. Get a t-shirt from Think Geek
51. Get 150 volksmarch award
52. Update my resume (I have not touched it in 12 years)
53. Update my will
54. Visit either the new art museum (currently closed for construction) or Summit Art Space
55. See a live play
56. Go to an Akron or Cleveland symphony concert
57. Play a round of mini golf
58. Do morning pages every day for 2 months
59. Take a pottery class
60. Get coffee table up to attic (harder than you would think - need to clean a space in the attic!)
61. Get a set of gel pens for work
62. Get caught up on my magazine reading. Stay that way for a month.
63. Give 1 gallon of blood
64. Get new bed pillows
65. Get smaller trash/recycle cans for the kitchen
66. Setup a compost pile.
67. Redo The Artist Way, preferably with a group
68. Get a massage.
69. Come up with a signature item for geocaching.
70. Transfer last 2 phase study group tapes to MP3.
71. Get a program to extract the data from my time log into something useful for my timesheet
72. Get WiFi working again at home
73. Get a new cell phone
74. Get one of my many posters framed and hung somewhere in my house.
75. Overhaul the look of my blog
76. Replace drapes in office
77. Clean out my silverware drawer of all the crap I don't use
78. Get new glasses
79. Complete "Drawing for Dummies"
80. Watch all avaiable Stargate:SG1 episodes on DVD
81. Get my photo on my blog
82. Visit the Akron Zoo
83. Get a digital recorder I can use while driving and later convert the files to MP3.
84. Get an icon for my blog
85. Clean out my old software.
86. Pay off my new car from above.
87. Try 12 new receipes
88. Get something to transport my crystals in, with appropriate covers/padding
89. Get rid of my unused bulletin board
90. Get rid of my unused filing cabinet
91. Catch up on all the Star Trek:Hidden Frontier episodes
92. Get my inbox to 0 emails.
93. Visit Niagra Falls.
94. Fix my headboard
95. Attend after work social at least once a month for 6 months
96. See Mt. Rushmore
97. Clean off kitchen table. Eat dinner off of the table for a month.
98. Meditate every day for 1 month
99. Take clothe bags shopping every week for 3 months
100. Edge around the sidewalk, driveway, etc.
101. Complete 1 volkesbike event.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

How I Work: Bill Gates - Apr. 4, 2006

How I Work: Bill Gates - Apr. 4, 2006

An interesting article. Some do have a valid complaint about how Microsoft software works. At least Bill (and all of Microsoft) uses its own products.

As a recent multi-monitor convert I can say there is a productivity gain from adding at least 1 monitor. For most of us I can't imagine more than 3 monitors as being beneficial, and in fact I would say many would find 3 to be a hinderance.

I like the idea of the tablet & desktop, along with the white board that will convert your scribblings into a graphic. Tablet PCs are just coming into their own, although they are still a little out of reach for the average PC user (corporate or home). Maybe Microsoft's new Ultra-Moble PCs will make tablet PCs available to the masses. I have resisted blogging about these (the Origami project) until they come out, but these have some great opportunity to get tablet programming to the unwashed masses (or at least us poor geeks).

I am of the opinion that, eventually, people will have several sized tablet-style computers much like you would have different sized pads of paper. The Ultra-Mobile will probably have limited use, much like a the half-sized notepads. The biggest use will be the small sized Palm/Pocket PC sized devices and the larger tablets. These I think are the common sized of papers used by people as well.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Beacon Journal | 03/30/2006 | We've lost that sense of identity

Beacon Journal | 03/30/2006 | We've lost that sense of identity

This struck a big chord with me. Now I have to admit I have not shopped at any of the places mentioned in the column, for various reasons:

Varca - It is on the wrong side of town and hard to get in & out of. I have been known to go to Bierce Hardware in Tallmadge before it became an Ace Hardware. I still get my glass repaired there.

Ahern's - I am not big on flowers, but even when we had to order them we worked with a store closer to our house. It, unfortunately, has closed as well.

Albright's - Frankly I don't buy that much lighting. One desk lamp and an outside flood light does not make for a great way to support any business.

The Freez - Out of the way for a custard stand, especially when I am about 5 minutes from the original Stricklands. They get 99% of my summer ice cream business.

The Hatterie - I do not wear that many hats. I have not bought a hat in at least 5 years, possibly longer.

However the point is a good one. I do try to support businesses that truely want to become a part of the community as much as I can. One store I do support is Acme grocery stores. My organic stuff is usually bought from The Mustard Seed or Kriegers.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Clooney's Oscar Gift Bag Nets $45,100 - Yahoo! News

Clooney's Oscar Gift Bag Nets $45,100 - Yahoo! News

There are times I wonder about Gearge Clooney, but this was pretty cool of him. This is the first time I had heard of him doing this. It does not sound like it is the first time he has done this. I wonder if it became newsworthy because of him winning an Oscar?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Apple Releases Software to Set iPod Volume - Yahoo! News

Apple Releases Software to Set iPod Volume - Yahoo! News

Why would anyone buy an audio device that they could not control the volume on? Shouldn't volume control be a given in any device that plays audio?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

RSS, BitTorrent & more media goodness

I am currently downloading an episode from season 2 of Star Trek:Hidden Frontier. Hidden Frontier is a fan effort of love, so it is not necessarily Oscar level performances, but it is entertaining. Each episode, so far, has been around 50-60 meg. Not huge, but still pretty good sized. Unfortunately so far most episodes require two downloads, plus an optional blooper file. This is an application screaming for BitTorrent. One file to get a whole season.

This is also something screaming for an RSS feed instead of constantly checking the site for a new episode. They do not seem to have an easily identified RSS feed just for the episodes.

Last weekend I spent some time downloading both music & film previews from SXSW. I did this last year as well, and the overall size is up: Just over 3 gig of music and another gig or so of film previews. At the same time I was downloading season 1 of Hidden Frontier and a few other things.

Now I know setting up an RSS feed is pretty much a no brainer anymore. In fact all blogging software has it built in. If the episodes were put on the net in blog form the RSS feed would become a given and there would be media goodness for all the Hidden Frontier fans.

However I am not sure how tough it is to setup a BitTorrent download. I am not a server guy, but I imagine there should be some way to easily get BitTorrent up and running for a site. Zipping the files together may not save space, but would make the season available as 1 file for download. That is what the SXSW people did - zipping MP3 usually results in a LARGER file, but it does make for 1 file for download.

The problem I have is Azureus always seems to bring my machine to a grinding halt. Azureus is, arguable, the most popular BitTorrent client around, but on my machine once I start it up the whole machine slows to a crawl. It also seems to introduce a fair amount in instability into my system, almost always requiring a reboot after extensive use. I noticed a similar problem with the Juice Receiver. Both are great programs, but to leave up for constant use you need to up your system resources a bit.

The true benefit of BitTorrent comes when you can leave your client up for long periods of time. However if your BitTorrent client kills the performance of your 512 meg laptop, you only leave it up as long as you are downloading something. I would love to leave my BitTorrent client up all the time. It helps everyone out, plus I could take advantage of BitTorrent podcast feeds.

I have been use Doppler as my primary podcast receiver. It has a few problems of its own, but it has a much smaller footprint than Juice, which allows me to leave it up all day. Doppler was written specifically for Windows, does a specific job, and does it well. My only real complaint has been it does not acknowledge a system shutdown request. That is small potatoes given all I get in return.

What would be great is a BitTorrent client that worked just like Doppler - small, efficient, and stable. If a BitTorrent client would play well in the background I would leave my running whenever my machine was on. If it played well with a podcast reciever even better. I would gladly switch many of my podcast feeds over to BitTorrent if I could consistently get feeds from small, stable programs that would allow me to use my machine while they worked in the background.

There has been talk about tighter integration between podcast recievers & BitTorrent for as long as podcasting has been around. Maybe both are too new to really make any headway on it. However with video podcasts this integration is becoming critical.

However an even bigger problem is mixed media fees. One of the first mixed media feeds I noticed was The Dawn and Drew Show. Every now and then they would release a video clip on their regular podcast feed. Adam Curry has been doing this a lot of late as well. When I was using iTunes as my player, this was not a problem. I would see the movies come up and I could take the time to watch them. However I now use either Windows Media Player (WMP) or my MP3 player for podcasts. I do this for many of the same reasons I switched from Juice - smaller footprint and it plays better with Windows. WMP handles some, but not all, video formats and my MP3 player handles no video at all (big shock there).

The problem is one player cannot handle all possible video formats, and there are plenty of popular ones out there. And what happens when someone wants to shoot a PDF through their podcast feed?

One of the advantages of a podcast receiver over a full RSS reader such as FeedDemon is that you can pretty much set up a feed and ignore it. You do not have to check show notes, you do not have to click on anything to fetch the enclosure. Of course going that route will let you know when you are getting the odd video. (FeedDemon does do auto downloading of enclosures, but runs into many of the same problems unless you consistently check the feed for what enclosures are being sent.)

So what is the answer? I'm not sure. To keep the asychronous of RSS, I would need some way of being notified when I am getting something "unexpected" in a feed. So, for example, when a video gets sent down a feed something happens to let me know I have something to attend to. Maybe the system tray icon could change, maybe an instant message, or an email. I would not want a message box to pop up every time something weird came through (although that might be an option for some people). It would also be cool if I could get a list of these files through the podcast receiver so I could play them at my leisure. That would be a lot simplier than playing Where's Waldo with these rouge files.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Finding drunks in a bar -- what are the chances? - Yahoo! News

Finding drunks in a bar -- what are the chances? - Yahoo! News

Ummmmm....yea, right. I am all against stupid drunk tricks, but I can't believe this is going to fly for long in Texas before EVERYONE starts to scream.

New 'Spider-Man' Plans Scenes in Cleveland - Yahoo! News

New 'Spider-Man' Plans Scenes in Cleveland - Yahoo! News

Cleveland is actually a pretty cool place to shoot second unit stuff. Skyscrapers, run down neighborhoods, industrial zones, even a port along Lake Erie.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Spoil A Blogger Joy

I got this before St. Patrick's Day, but a busy week at work and some Internet problems over the weekend kept me from blogging about it. I still need to listen to the CD - just need to find some time to drop it in a player. I lack a CD player in my car. I left it at home today, so probably tomorrow. One thing I did notice is there was only 1 group on there that I have any CDs for - The Irish Rovers.

Beacon Journal | 03/19/2006 | Smoking ban may soon be doused

Beacon Journal | 03/19/2006 | Smoking ban may soon be doused

I hate this. Allow me to say what I said when there was first some communities opting out - what good is county council passing a law if the individual cities can decide to follow them or not? Either the cities within the county must follow the rules as presented or we need to get rid of county council. Otherwise we pay for no service.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Beacon Journal | 03/14/2006 | Schools double teacher job cuts

Beacon Journal | 03/14/2006 | Schools double teacher job cuts

I'm tired of the scare tactics, and frankly they will not work. Two words - charter schools. Akron Public Schools are making themselves irrelevant.

The School Board flat out lied to us about no schools getting shut down to get us to sign onto the reconstruction plan. You are talking about even further school closing, some regardless of the passing of the levy. Frankly if you are shutting schools down you don't need as many teachers anyways.

I can't afford any more, and frankly until the State legislator gets off its ass to fix school funding in a way that is constitutional according to the Ohio Supreme Court I am not voting for any more taxes for schools. I think we all should do that, maybe then instead of debating the state amphibian we can get our state representatives to do something constructive like fund public schools.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Amabassador Blasts Bruce Willis' Comments - Yahoo! News

Amabassador Blasts Bruce Willis' Comments - Yahoo! News

Instead of focusing on closing down the suppliers, maybe we need to concentrate on WHY so many people feel the need to take drugs. Cut on the demand, supply dries up.

Beacon Journal | 03/13/2006 | Buzzards' arrival a big to-do in Hinckley

Beacon Journal | 03/13/2006 | Buzzards' arrival a big to-do in Hinckley

You have to love it. I'm sure the Buzzard watch has already begun.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bush: Port Deal Collapse Sends Bad Message - Yahoo! News

Bush: Port Deal Collapse Sends Bad Message - Yahoo! News

As a general rule of thumb, I think it is a bad idea to outsource security of our ports to any country, Middle Eastern, China, England, even Canada. We don't outsource our national defense, why outsource port security?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Tribble or Hairball?

There are times I doubt the intelligence of my cat Fuzzbutt. However he has learned that, pretty much, if I am reaching for him from my chair he is either going to a) to get petted b) get wet with flea stuff or c) get combed out, which usually hurts. Fuzzbutt likes to roll around on his back and he ends up with matted hair around his shoulders along his spine where he can't reach while cleaning.

Today he jumped up beside me while I was sitting on my bed. I keep a comb for my cats near by for just such an emergency. The above tribble-like clump of hair was from the combing. If he would just settle down beside me more often we would not have to go through all this hair pulling.

Here he is after all the combing:

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

RIP Doms

Beacon Journal | 03/08/2006 | Patella remembered for character, integrity

I never played for Patella, but I did have him for gym class in his last year of teaching. He was a great guy, and one of the best (if not THE best) coaches at Akron East High. Everyone I know who did play for him had great things to say about him.

WWdN: In Exile: how about a wwdnbot for aim?

WWdN: In Exile: how about a wwdnbot for aim?

Wil had the right idea, but the wrong format. Think SMS, aka text messages. Instant messages still suffer from inter operability problems, however AIM is better than nothing.

RSS is great for pushing out info, but there is a time sensitivity issue. If, using Wil's example, you had an appearance you would need to make sure to get it in your feed far enough ahead to a) allow people to see it in their feed and b) allow people to make plans. B obviously needs a bigger time lead than A, however you still would need at least 1 or 2 days to have a reasonable chance of letting everyone at least know.

However, what if you were asked to do a last minute fill in on Letterman? What if you need to cancel a meeting at the last minute with a group? Not everyone has their IM client open 24/7. Could you drop a quick text message to list and get near instantaneous notification? Not a new idea, but not one done here in the States. Mostly because US cell companies see text messaging as another way to gouge their customers get revenue. The rest of the world GETS how to use text messaging - from using it to how to charge for it.

However the flip side to this was a somewhat recent article on 43 Folders. RSS is great, but some of its uses have left us spending too much time managing our feeds sometimes. Wouldn't it be great if there was a way for readers to detect and let you know "we see your delivery of yak hair has arrived. Do you want to remove feed foobar?" or maybe "You have not received something on the foo feed for 30 days. Remove it?" I would not want to automatically whack a feed - some of mine intentionally receive little traffic but I want that traffic when it comes.

I guess there is just a matter of how we get info (there is a timeliness issue as well, but Merlin touches on that at 43 Folders). Think about it - many of us probably have an IM client or two, an email program, maybe a couple of web email accounts checked on the web, and an aggregator (or two). This does not include multiple devices many of us have (cell, PDA, multiple computers, god knows what else) or services we use to keep some of our local data synched amongst the different machines (think NewsGator & Feedburner). For some eliminating one piece of the puzzle is a great help.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett Dies at 45 - Yahoo! News

Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett Dies at 45 - Yahoo! News

I am not a huge baseball fan, but having someone so close to me age-wise die of a stroke is weird. Granted at 41 I could easily be a grandfather. My old neighbors were, and great grandparents by 60.

About the only time you hear of a stroke in someone this young is in child birth (which I think would have been a bigger story) or some kind of gentic thing. Such a death though makes you re evaluate how you are handling your own health. Time to cut back on the nachos and get back in the walking shoes.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Oscars Ratings Drop 10 Percent From 2005 - Yahoo! News

Oscars Ratings Drop 10 Percent From 2005 - Yahoo! News

Nothing personal guys, but who has 3+ hours to devote to this kind of show anymore? I think the awards are important, but I do not think the show itself is important.

Joint AT&T-BellSouth Might Cut 10,000 Jobs - Yahoo! News

Joint AT&T-BellSouth Might Cut 10,000 Jobs - Yahoo! News

One question over this merger - didn't the government break up AT&T over anti-trust issues before? Isn't AT&T pretty much back to where they were before the break up? We have accomplished what?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Late post

I have been a bad blogger. Almost a week ago I received a package from my secret pal in Spoil A Blogger. I got a copy of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I did not have a copy this. I saw it in the theaters and loved it. I thought it was much better than the version done by the BBC back in the 8o's. I know some people were upset because they included some things from the BBC radio show as well, but I still liked it.

I have to remember to keep my Amazon wish list up to date. Merlin over at 43 Folders recommends using your Amazon Wish List as a parking place for books, CDs, etc. you are looking to buy. I like the idea, although I have yet to take the time to figure out how to get the Amazon Wish List onto my Palm. Two way communication between my Palm and Amazon wish list would even be better.

Microsoft Plans New Windows Products - Yahoo! News

Microsoft Plans New Windows Products - Yahoo! News

There are too many versions of Windows Vista. Users will be confused. They need 2 versions: Home & work.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Checking in

I have not been feeling the need to post here on personal things for awhile, so I figured I should check in. Weather is still weird here, and I am feeling it a little still.

Mostly tonight I wanted to clear out some things from my personal to do list. An important project has washed up on my desk at work and I want to get some things cleared up here at home just in case the shit hits the fan on this and a bad time for me. I definately have mixed feelings on the project. I've been told it is simple, but I have heard THAT all too many times before. My intent is to whip it out quickly and easily, but that pain in the butt Murphy tends to have other things to say about my intent.

Actually I just looked at the time and realized I have not had dinner. A group of us at work go out once a month for lunch. We work in different departments but we like to get together and catch up. Today we went to a Chinese buffet so I am feeling a little full.

Justices to Revisit Late-Term Abortion Ban - Yahoo! News

Justices to Revisit Late-Term Abortion Ban - Yahoo! News

And so it begins...

Beacon Journal | 02/21/2006 | Blackwell hurls series of attack ads

Beacon Journal | 02/21/2006 | Blackwell hurls series of attack ads

Down and dirty during the primary. Just remind us all of all the crap currently going on with the Republican controlled Ohio government. I have one thing to say:

Thank you Ken Blackwell.

Truth be told, I would not vote for you anyways. I saw one of your early ads, one that was not an attack ad. I do not agree with your views. Period. I also feel your views, as presented in that ad, will do nothing but harm Ohio.

If you want to attact smart, creative, young people to this state you don't concern yourself with taxes. You concern yourself with making the state a place where someone who is different feels comfortable. Has anyone listened to the reports put out by consultants for cities here in Ohio? Young creative people choose where to live, then worry about getting a job. Countries that have opened their borders (and wallets) to gay researchers are, surprise, getting gay researchers to flock to those countries. Worry about the environment, the parks, public transportation, and yes getting industry to come here. But more and more people do not have to go to their jobs, their jobs can come to them. Build a state that supports that, people will come, and then industry will follow.

Beacon Journal | 02/21/2006 | Prayer request puts Hartville in holy battle

Beacon Journal | 02/21/2006 | Prayer request puts Hartville in holy battle:

They want to invite pastors or rabbis from Hartville churches or churches where village residents worship to say the prayer. Hough said he would like it limited to Judeo-Christian religions.

This is the only reason I am against prayer at governmetn meetings. If you are going to start the meeting with a prayer, and invite in ministers, then you also need to allow for any other religion within city bounds in this case. That also means that the ACLU or other group cannot trot in a ringer to test the law.

From the mayor:

``My luck is I'll have someone coming in doing satanic things and then I'm the anti-Christ and a devil worshipper,'' she said. ``I don't see how I can"

You cannot because people do not get that freedom of religion means all religions. If you are opening up a public forum with prayer then you need to allow all religions to participate or no religion to participate. Otherwise you are giving preferential treatment to some religions, which is a way of endorsing it, which violates the separation of church and state.

Sometimes people are stupid. Personally if a satanist was to do the opening prayer/blessing (a reasonable request to keep this to the spoken word of X number of minutes) I would not think that the council, mayor, or anyone involved in the process was necessarily a satanist.


There are times I want to ship off all the whiny people who complain about how their relgion is shit on to a situation where they are truly not allowed to practice the religion. Maybe a year living in a predominately Muslim country would teach them a thing or two about persecution and let them appreciate how good they have it here in America.


Monday, February 20, 2006

Beacon Journal | 02/19/2006 | Hypothermia? B-b-b-bring it on!

Beacon Journal | 02/19/2006 | Hypothermia? B-b-b-bring it on!

I have yet to see the interest in joining the polar bear club by jumping into a near frozen lake. They're nuts I say. Nuts!

Beacon Journal | 02/19/2006 | Hypothermia? B-b-b-bring it on!

Beacon Journal | 02/19/2006 | Hypothermia? B-b-b-bring it on!

I have yet to see the interest in joining the polar bear club by jumping into a near frozen lake. They're nuts I say. Nuts!

Scripting News: 2/19/2006

Scripting News: 2/19/2006

Is this like "Kill all the extremist"? ;)

Dems: Public Won't Like Medicare Plan - Yahoo! News

Dems: Public Won't Like Medicare Plan - Yahoo! News

One of the worst things about this, based upon this and other articles, is that some people who were getting free drugs from individual drug companies now have to pay. At least one of the drug companies, and I don't remember which one, WANTED to help out but the way the legislation was written they were not.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Berry Can't Escape 'Catwoman' During Award - Yahoo! News

Berry Can't Escape 'Catwoman' During Award - Yahoo! News:

Congratulations to Halle Berry. It is nice to see a fellow Ohioian (even if she does not live here anymore) do well.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Houston, we have wifi!

I'm back!! Woo hoo!

Apparently my old wireless router went coasters up (or, more appropriately, rubber feet up). We had blinky lights, could connect to it, but it was not allowing the internet through. Kind of defeats the purpose of the router. Granted I have not swapped the antennas for my high-gain antennas that gives me some kick-ass coverage. Right now I am sitting right next to the router, about 12 inches from the antenna so I am getting excellent reception. The setup program provided did not work, but if I skipped the setup everything worked great.

Now, of course, having cleared out space to put my laptop in my office (also know as the dumping ground) I found the comfort of sitting in my comfy office chair with my computer on a desk where I can easily move my legs under the table. Normally I work with a folding table in the living room.

Just double checking to see if w.Blogger works. So far all my internet apps have worked great. Now I just need to swap antennas.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Star Trek New Voyages

Star Trek New Voyages

Another all-volunteer labor of love project that is free. Much like Star Wars: Revelations this is a project of the fans.

This takes the original Star Trek to a new frontier - season 4. There are new actors playing our favorite roles. They do capture the idea of the character, but bring in a different twist.

I downloaded the pilot & episode 1 and I have to say they are pretty good. The effects were not as good in episode 1 as the pilot, in my opinion, but still pretty good. The acting reminded me of a local theater group - good but not great. Overall though it was well worth the time to download and watch. Best part - it is free of comercials!

Looks like they do one or two episodes a year, which I think is pretty good given it is all volunteers. Revelations took 2+ years for a 45 minute (roughly) film.

Beacon Journal | 02/14/2006 | Smoking ban may wait year

Beacon Journal | 02/14/2006 | Smoking ban may wait year

So, we pass a law that kinda, sort-of bans smoking in Summit county (except Akron & Cuyahoga Falls who already have laws), and then we back off and say "just kidding"? Grow a pair and leave the law as is! You can always change to the state-wide law later.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Not been myself

I have not been myself lately, and who I have been pretty much sucks. The big problem is I have been having "senior moments". The worst being I took a can soup to work for lunch, but forgot that in our new building (where we have been at for almost a year) does not have a can opener.

Things are getting better. I am feeling better, which is tied to the weather settling down some here. Up & down weather just zaps my energy. I have a few blog ideas that I need to work on over the next few days. I also need to do an episode of "This Old Blog" to rework some of my blog.

I lost my internet connection over the weekend, so I am heading directly home after work to deal with that. Tough to have ideas floating through you head I should still be writing these things up and have them ready, but I was being lazy over the weekend.

Hopefully my ISP will be back up and I can do some stuff this evening. It really sucked being without the internet for the last 2, almost 3 days.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

CURRY.COM: Adam Curry's Weblog

CURRY.COM: Adam Curry's Weblog

Looks like a new model. Anyone who listens to Adam's Daily Source Code (or Delta Sierra Charly as it is usually referred to) know he has been talking about this. Getting advertisers to bid to put ads on your show. Kinda cool!